Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman and mastermind Alec Ounsworth has once again struck gold with this, the band’s fifth album and easily their best since 2007’s sophomore release Some Loud Thunder.
Their game-changing, self-titled debut will forever be mentioned whenever CYHSY are written about, and that shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment for Ounsworth – although he sometimes gives the impression that record, or at least the fervent reaction to it, does stick in the craw.
But moving on to the songs at hand, The Tourist harks back to those glorious indie days one minute, while also frequently sloping off into the beautiful psychedelic breakouts of Some Loud Thunder…as on The Tourist’s standout track, Fireproof.
The song starts off with a simple, yet funky bass-line and ominous drums, coming across like something the Stone Roses might have penned around the time they wrote One Love and Something’s Burning. At least it does until Ounsworth’s unmistakable voice reaches fever pitch. It then cuts away to a refrain that sounds like it belongs on an altogether different track. But of course, it just somehow works.
He might not, vocally, be everybody’s cup of tea, but can you really imagine any other voice cutting through this music the way his does? It can verge on a screech at times, parts David Byrne and Wayne Coyne, but you get the sense he’s always perfectly in control.
Opening track The Pilot is another that worms its way into your mind and stays firmly planted. It also features a brilliant Ounsworth lyric – something about a “tough luck motherfucker who was born a clown.” Throw in an intricate bass-line that tells a story all of its own and you have damn near the finest song CYHSY have ever produced.
And on an album as full of moments of genius as The Tourist, that’s really saying something. Better Off is closer to the upbeat indie that featured on the debut, again underpinned by that brilliant bass work.
Meanwhile, Down (Is Where I Want To Be) was issued as a teaser for the album and it set the tone quite nicely for what was to come.
Whether you gave up on CYHSY when what came after the debut didn’t float your boat, or (like me) you’ve worshipped faithfully at the alter of Ounsworth from day one, there is sure to be something on The Tourist that you will love.